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Urine Drug Tests – How To Perform The Drug Test Using Urine Sample



Urine Drug Tests are reported as either PASS or FAIL. A person who fails the urine drug test specimen is reported as adulterated or invalid. When an employer or physician requests a drug test, usually the patient is directed to go to a collection site.

To make sure that the specimen is not tampered or invalid, it goes through a specified procedure called “chain of custody”. The urine is collected in a specially-designed secure cap, sealed with tamper-resistant tape. Then, it is sent to the laboratory for screening. How is drug testing for urine performed?

1. The first step at the testing site is splitting the urine into two aliquots (a portion of a total amount of a solution). The first aliquot is screened for drugs using an analyzer that performs the initial screen as an immunoassay. If the test turns out positive, the other aliquot will be used to confirm the findings using the method Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS).

If the urine drug test is requested by a physician or employer, certain drugs are screened such as abuse-prone drugs. Examples of the drugs tested include sedative analgesics like diamorphine and oxycodone. If such a test is not requested specifically, a more general test (for opiates) will be used to detect the drugs. This prevents the employer or patient to identify the drug.

2. Test results will be relayed to the Medical Review Officer (MRO) where a medical physician will re-examine the results. If the results turn negative, the MRO will inform the employer that the employee has no detectable drug in the urine. If the results of the GC-MS and immunoassay turn non-negative and show a certain level of concentration of a metabolite or parent drug above the established limit, the MRO will contact the employee and determine if he or she is taking a medical treatment or prescription drugs.

On-site instant drug tests are an effective method of detecting drug abuse among employees and rehabilitation programs. Some drug test kits boast an extremely high accuracy rate.

What are the drugs covered in the urine drug test?

a. Marijuana

b. Cocaine

c. Amphetamines

d. Phencyclidine

e. Opiates

NOTE: Specimens may only be tested for the covered drugs. An employer may only test for other regulated drugs as approved by the DOT, and if it has an approved testing protocol from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

How does a patient prepare for testing?

The employee should not provide any information about the over-the-counter or prescription medicines he is taking to the laboratory or employer. According to the standard drug testing custody and control, a statement on the form will inform the employee if the test comes out positive. Then, the Medical Review Officer (MRO) will contact the employee if he is taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications. The employee can, then, list his medications on the employee’s copy of the form.


The MRO examines the positive confirmed urine drug test results and determines if there is a medical explanation for the result. Before he makes the decision that the test is valid, the MRO will provide the patient with the chance to discuss the result. If the medical explanation is legit, the MRO will report the test as negative.